Monday, February 27, 2012

The Chardon High School Shooting

This morning at 7:50 a.m. I was driving through Chardon Square; about a quarter of a mile away, a student (alleged to be T.J. Lane) was running away after shooting 5 classmates in the Chardon High School cafeteria; one boy, Daniel Parmertor, lay mortally wounded on the cafeteria floor; two other boys, Russell King and Demetrius Hewlin, were critically wounded, and a couple other students had less serious wounds (Nate Mueller was the name of a boy grazed on his right ear; Nickolas Walczak has spinal cord trauma--his life was saved by math teacher Joseph Ricci; a girl was also wounded and has now been released from the hospital). The 911 call went to the police at 7:38 a.m. and shortly after that reports were on the radio stations. I listened to 100.7 FM as I drove to work as someone described ambulances coming to the local Walmart store and as a medical helicopter landed to evacuate seriously wounded kids to Metro Hospital in Cleveland. That's when I knew it was bad--Metro has a trauma ER unit that sees the most serious cases in the area. As it happened, one student died at Metro; two others are in very serious condition--and we pray that they survive. [We learned the next day that these two boys, Russell King and Demetrius Hewlin, died from their wounds].

My nephew Dillon Coughlin was in the cafeteria when the shooting took place. If I heard the story right, Dillon led classmates into an adjacent room, where they barricaded the door with a piano. There were many courageous and even heroic actions at the high school. I hear that a teacher (it might have been Coach Frank Hall) was involved in chasing after the shooter and comforting the severely wounded students. Other teachers (Mr. Joseph Ricci is one), janitors, and students acted heroically--we may never know all their names. Teachers and other school workers have the instincts of parents--they will risk their own lives to save their students.

From everything I have heard, it seems that teachers, administrators, and police handled this terrible situation correctly. Now all adults in the area must help the children, teachers, police, rescue workers and others involved process this tragedy. There can be a delayed reaction and PTSD in situations like this.

Everyone who lives in the Chardon area will know someone involved in this shooting. My daughter was friends with the aunt of the alleged shooter. The dead boy lived in my brother Jim's neighborhood. This is a small and tight community. We all share in the tragedy. We will pray for everyone tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. at St. Mary's Church.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

One of My Old Poems--for Ash Wednesday

The Last Ash Wednesday (February 2003)

After teaching my classes,
I drive over to Kevin’s house
Where Mom now lives after moving from Euclid
Our family home for fifty-one years.

It’s getting harder for her to go out,
So I come to her house,
Burn last year’s palm fronds in the ash tray

And anoint her forehead with the Sign of the Cross.

I find myself unable to utter the ancient words,
“Remember, Woman, from dust thou art,
And unto dust thou shallt return.”

The words are too painful, too real,
The abiding dust
too close.

Then Mom anoints my own forehead,
Again leaving the words unspoken:

No one can ever know . . . .

After the little ceremony,
We both laugh, and Mom says,
“Let’s drink a beer!”

“Not on Ash Wednesday,” I tease.

“The hell with that!” she retorts.
“I’m old enough now to be above the rules!”

We both laugh, and I pop open two beers.
We drink to Mardi Gras and to Lent,
And to the ashes on our foreheads.

Bob Coughlin
February 21, 2007
Ash Wednesday

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Carolan Fixing Dinner at Rancho Mastatal, Costa Rica

There's a nice photo of Carolan working with the Aerie Backcountry Medicine group, fixing dinner at Rancho Mastatal, Costa Rica. This and other photos are on the Aerie blog at this address: (This is the Aerie blog entry for February 21, 2012.)

Mardi Gras Advice from Walt Whitman

Allons! the road is before us!
It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well—be not
Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf
Let the tools remain in the workshop! Let the money remain
Let the school stand! Mind not the cry of the teacher!
Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! Let the lawyer plead in the
court, and the judge expound the law.
Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? Will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?
(Walt Whitman,  excerpt from “Song of the Open Road”)

This poem makes me think of Kenny Przybylski and Timmy Jenkins. And a bit of my daughter Carolan. The one obscure word above, "allons," is French for "let us go."

Saturday, February 18, 2012

How to Feel Like an Idiot

I'm doing two things that make me feel like an idiot, an absolute rookie. I'm learning to play the classical flute from scratch. And I'm learning the Irish-Gaelic language.

When I first picked up the flute, I couldn't make a single sound on it. Now I'm making big progress! I can sound out G, A, B, C, D. 

And now for a mighty leap: higher register E, F, and G. Having some trouble with these notes!

The Irish-Gaelic is another story for another blog entry.

I must say that I am proud of myself, starting these very challenging things at age 63.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Love Poem by Pablo Neruda, Translated by Steve Tapscott

Sonnet XI

I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.

I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.

I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,

and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
Like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.”

Pablo Neruda, Love Sonnet XI. Translated by Steve Tapscott

Tengo hambre de tu boca, de tu voz, de tu pelo
y por las calles voy sin nutrirme, callado,
no me sostiene el pan, el alba me desquicia,
busco el sonido líquido de tus pies en el día.
Estoy hambriento de tu risa resbalada,
de tus manos color de furioso granero,
tengo hambre de la pálida piedra de tus uñas,
quiero comer tu piel como una intacta almendra.
 Quiero comer el rayo quemado en tu hermosura,
la nariz soberana del arrogante rostro,
quiero comer la sombra fugaz de tus pestañas
 y hambriento vengo y voy olfateando el crepúsculo
buscándote, buscando tu corazón caliente
como un puma en la soledad de Quitratúe.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Carolan and "Aerie Backcountry Medicine" Training in Costa Rica

Below are some photos from Aerie Backcountry Medicine and their semester-long training program in wilderness emergency medicine. This month Carolan and her colleagues are training at Rancho Mastatal in Costa Rica. Mastatal is not really near anything. The closest town, Puriscal, is a pretty good jeep ride away. As I understand it, Mastatal is in the tropical rain forest, between San Jose, the capital, and the Pacific beaches. The distance in miles is not great, but I'm thinking it takes 2-3 hours on gravel roads to get from San Jose to Rancho Mastatal, and probably another hour or two to get to the Pacific beaches.

I found the following pictures on the great blog the program has at this address:
I hope they don't mind me reproducing the pictures here.

Top photo shows the jungle-like landscape of Rancho Mastatal. Middle photo shows Carolan's colleagues in the program. Carolan is in the middle row, left, seated. Bottom photo shows Carolan checking the airway of a colleague who is playing a role (I think!). Either that or she's doing some emergency dental work! I told her--don't do any surgery until the program is over!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Great Day for the (American) Irish--Giants Super Bowl Victory

We American-Irish will lay some claim to the exciting victory of the New York Giants over the New England Patriots in yesterday's Super Bowl XLVI. The Head Coach of the Giants is Tom Coughlin. His Offensive Coordinator is Kevin Gilbride. And the team owner is John Mara--Irish-Americans all. Coach Coughlin comes from Waterloo, New York, about twelve miles as the bird flies from where my Coughlin's settled when they arrived from Ireland. Before Waterloo, Coach Coughlin's ancestors came from County Cork, Ireland.   I don't know if we are distant cousins or not--but my ancestors came from West Cork and landed in Cayuga County, New York (Scipio Town, more precisely). The only false note in our cousin-ship is that Tom apparently pronounces his name "COFF-lin," whereas we say "COG-lin" (my Dad and Grampa pronounced it more like COCK-lin, as it's pronounced in West Cork). So, yes, I would say we are cousins and I'm happy with his success and Super Bowl victory; not so happy about the way he pronounces his name.

By the way, I heard that Cork, Ireland is celebrating the Coughlin victory with an early spring--a festooning of early spring flowers!

p.s. My nephew Tommy Coughlin, the real Tom Coughlin of Mentor, Ohio, should try to make a few bucks off Coach Coughlin's victory!

The above photo is from Tom Coughlin's Wikipedia entry: Coach Coughlin is on the right and Coach Gilbride is to his left.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Family Photo

Aunt Emily. Aunt Carolan, Julia, and Colin--January 28, 2012.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Funny video: "Irish Girls Never Say 'No' (or 'Yes')"

As a student of the Irish-Gaelic language, I've discovered there is no simple way to say yes or no. This language peculiarity carries over into the speaking of English by the Irish (the variety of speech sometimes known as "Hiberno-English") and is humorously demonstrated in the following youtube video (URL link is below). By the way, English may have been forced upon the Irish by the Sasanach, but the Irish have made it into one of the world's most beautiful languages.

You can click on the title of this blog entry to launch the youtube video.